No. 1-seed Charlotte Catholic came into Friday’s matchup with No. 16 seed West Caldwell expecting to dominate.
The Cougars wasted no time in completing that task as senior running back Milan Howard scored on the Cougars’ second play from scrimmage on a 75-yard touchdown run and his team never looked back, rolling to a 43-7 victory in the first round of the 3A state playoffs.
Cougars safety Adam Robbe tackled West Caldwell punter Kade Clawson in the end zone for a safety on the Warriors’ ensuing punt to make it 8-0.
Charlotte Catholic scored on all six first-half possessions to take a 43-0 lead into the break.
The Cougars remained a perfect 12-0, and will host Stuart Cramer (8-4) in the second next Friday.
“This has been (our) focus all season, and we’ve faced challenges but we like playing with each other and for each other,” Charlotte Catholic coach Mike Brodowicz said. “They just love playing football together and it shows on the field.”
The Cougars piled up 228 yards rushing with most of their starters sitting out the second half.
Catholic junior quarterback Chris Walton also had one of his best games, going 4-for-5 passing for 116 yards and three touchdowns, each of them going to go junior Michael Neel. Catholic running back Milan Howard added 81 yards rushing and two touchdowns on three carries.
The Charlotte Catholic defense was also dominant, allowing just 16 yards of total offense in the first half and 128 yards for the game.
West Caldwell senior running back Taye Dula led the Warriors (6-6) with 106 yards rushing and a touchdown on 19 carries.
Records: Charlotte Catholic 12-0; West Caldwell 6-6.
Three who mattered
Chris Walton/Michael Neel, Charlotte Catholic: Charlotte Catholic is not known for its passing game, but Cougars quarterback Walton found Neel on three first half touchdown passes from 34, 52 and 30 yards.
Charlotte Catholic defense: The Cougar offense often gets most of the attention, but the defense held West Caldwell to just 16 yards of total offense in the first half when the Cougars’ starters were playing.
Milan Howard: Catholic’s senior running back rushed 81 yards and two touchdowns on three first quarter carries. He rested afterward with a sore back, but will be fine next week, according to Brodowicz.
▪ The Cougars running game is hard to stop, as they averaged 11 yards per carry against West Caldwell, with 228 yards on only 21 carries.
▪ Charlotte Catholic backup quarterback Jackson Cure was featured in the running game in the first half, rushing for 17 yards on three carries (at wing back) including 1-yard touchdown run. Cure played the second half at quarterback.
▪ West Caldwell senior running back Taye Dula did not give up as he made sure the Warriors got on the scoreboard on the game’s final play. He rushed for 77 yards on the final drive of his high school career.
▪ Charlotte Catholic continued to be one of the most dominant teams in the state as it has outscored its opponents 489-111. That’s an average score of 41-9.
▪ The Cougars defense has only one shutout this season (44-0 against South Mecklenburg), and allowed its only score to West Caldwell on the game’s final play.
Charlotte Catholic will host Stuart Cramer in the second round of the 3A state playoffs next Friday.